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Kaylee Haskell, a Junior at University of Tampa, is studying this Fall '17 semester on the CIEE Ghana Arts and Science program. She is also an Alum of the CIEE Global Navigator High School Study Abroad program in Ghana in 2013.

Small towns produce two kinds of people- those who sit comfortably in their familiar, safe environments and those who crave to find what’s beyond, following their curiosity and need for something new and different. I will always be grateful for growing up in Vermont, but it was definitely beneficial and necessary to explore new, different cultures.

When I decided to go to Ghana in 2013, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was finishing my junior year in high school and I had never left my mother, aside from 3-day field hockey camp, but I felt like I needed a change of scenery. 

Kaylee (2nd from left) with some of the High School students and Programme Leaders

CIEE made the planning and traveling process as easy as possible for my family and I. The Leadership Academy prepared me more for what was to come in my life than anything in my prior 17 years. I had little knowledge about Ghana before I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac, but I could tell instantly that this place would have an impact on me.

I was very homesick for the first week that I was in Accra. I had convinced myself before I left that I would be fine and not miss home, but it seems somewhat inevitable when you’ve never left home before, and now you’re 5,000 miles away. However, the homesickness didn’t prevail and I quickly settled into this new culture and let it open my eyes to people, places and things unknown.

 Our small group of 6 high schoolers spent our weekdays volunteering at Future Leaders UCC, and then returning back to the University of Ghana campus to take Twi language classes and group leadership lessons. On weekends we would participate in excursions and escape the city life of Accra to more rural places that took us deeper into the roots of the culture.

My four weeks in Ghana felt more like a taste of the culture than an actual immersion. The days flew by and when it was time to leave, I wanted more. Despite taking language classes, I could only comfortably say '3te s3n', '3y3' and 'medaase', which was sufficient for the 30 days I was there, but I found myself wanting more, and I knew I would eventually return.

At the Cape Coast Castle

 My experience in Ghana shifted my college and career path. I chose to move from Vermont to Florida to be around more, diverse people. I also started my college career as a journalism major, but quickly added an international and cultural studies major to that to allow myself to dive into different people, where they come from and the roots of their cultures.

I decided that I would return to Ghana for the fall semester in 2017. Because CIEE has helped me so greatly before, I didn’t look to any other program because I knew they would ensure that I had the greatest abroad experience.

I arrived on the Legon campus on August 10th, and have now been here for 36 days, a little over the time that I spent here before, and it has flown by. My experience from the Leadership Academy prepared me greatly for the semester ahead. I feel as though I am more comfortable with intercultural communications and am more accustomed to the everyday norms that differ from those in the US. I have been able to make friends with locals, travel comfortably outside of the capital, confidently board and trotro and make connections throughout the country that I never could have done otherwise.

I decided to focus my studies for this semester on gender and culture within Ghana and the issues that surround it. I am enrolled in 5 classes, including another Twi language course, I’m determined to carry a conversation, an intercultural communication course and 3 classes surrounding issues within gender roles, religion and Ghanaian culture. Even with some prior knowledge, it is interesting to indulge in conversations with locals and see what norms are still prevalent in everyday life today.   

The most interesting lesson that has been the topic of discussion in more than one of my classes is the role of women in Ghanaian society and how it is calculated, or not calculated, into the Gross Domestic Product of the country. The GDP is measured in the public space, which doesn’t account for any services that are provided in the private space. This leads to a high rate of unemployment within the female population of Ghana, because a majority of the country promotes strict gender roles, keeping the women’s work in the household. These women are considered “not working” while they are the first to rise, maintain the household, prepare her husband for work, her children for school, clean while they are all gone, run errands, cook and clean when everyone returns home, wash and maintain the house while they are asleep and repeat these steps every day. Women’s roles in Ghanaian culture are crucial to the function of the society, but never measured on the big scale. 

Kaylee learning how to Tie Dye

This has stood out to me the most so far, but we are only 5 weeks in. I am forever grateful for the opportunities CIEE and Ghana have provided me with and am looking forward to the next 3 months in this vibrant, evolving country.

Kaylee with some of her local Ghanaian and CIEE friends



STUDENT BLOG: "Making Friends Through Basketball" - by Shakari Stroud

Shakari Stroud is a participant of the CIEE Legon Spring Semester 2017. She is a senior at University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign studying Anthropology.


Study abroad weighs differently on every individual. It can be a scary thing to do- leave home and all that is familiar for a country you know little about at the sun’s horizon. You are living in a foreign country, and all you ever here before you leave home and during orientation is not to trust anyone. Who are you supposed to trust? Initially, I like to think that people are good.

I knew my willingness to meet people and make personal connections with them would be my greatest strength while abroad. When I heard that international students could participate in the sports at the University, my eyes lit up. I was bursting with so much excitement to finally get back on the court. At my home University I did not have much time to play any sports, because before getting into college I told myself I would solely focus on my academics. I had been playing volleyball and basketball since middle school and it was during high school that my appreciation and passion for these two sports blossomed, as I had the opportunity to play at the varsity level. Playing these games granted me so much comfortableness and excitement. I could not see myself not playing- that is until college.

I met with the head coach of the girls’ basketball team who appeared just as excited as I was to join the team. I did have some reservations, but they quickly went away when the coach showed me how serious she was.

“Do you have shoes to practice in?” She asked.

I immediately began kicking off my sandals and replacing them with socks and my running shoes. I had planned to go to the gym later that day to work out, but I learned I would be occupied with doing something better. She had instructed me to stretch and run around the court a few times to warm up and join the others girl when I was done.

They were all so welcoming and nice. We did some drills together and it was when we did “figure 8” that I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I was in my element and I never felt so much at home until then. It took me back to high school and playing basketball with such a diverse group of girls who all had a common passion. I saw each of my former teammates in the girls I was standing on the court with, and it made me smile. It made my heart smile even bigger because that was home. After practice that day, Coach took me to the Sport Directory to get registered and have my picture taken.

Practices were not always easy. It was hard practicing in the sun. I would end practice feeling like I went swimming and the sachet water never stayed cool because the ground was blazing hot. They sat on the ground waiting for us to viciously rip them open to squeeze in our mouth during water breaks. Practice was also frustrating when people were on Ghana time. I would like to think of myself as a prompt individual and being late did not sit well with me. Of course when it was game time most of our flaws came together. I traveled with them to Tudu. That was where our first and second games were. It was great experiencing another part of Accra all because I was a part of this team.

We lost our first game due to several reasons. One of them was communication and the other was utilization of the court. It was nothing that we could not fix in practice the following day. We practiced hard up until our next game which was the following week and brought home a victory.

It was great feeling, and an even better feeling of jamming out to Medikal’s “Too Risky” on the ride back to campus. It’s a Ghana thing!

Kari (2)
Left: Shakari Stroud (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) with her team mate





“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.”
Douglas Pagels


Some of the students being picked up at the Kotoka International Airport

The Fall 2016 students started their journey on a blank page not knowing what to expect when they first arrived in Ghana on August 15th. In their first week, they have explored some of the cultural nuances that make up the country Ghana.

On Tuesday, August 16th, the Fall 2016 students joined other International Students for the Univeristy  of Ghana Office International Programmes orientation (IPO). The orientation introduced the students to the university and the activities that are available for international students students.

The IPO orientation was followed by a 3-day CIEE orientation which covered topics such as academics, safety and security, health issues, sexual harassment protocols, a Bystander Intervention Training, perceptions and stereotypes and a Ghanaian music and dance workshop.


Bystander Intervention Training at the CIEE Study Center, International House

The week long of orientation was capped with a tour of the city of Accra which ended up at Chale Wote Art Festival in Jamestown, one of the oldest districts of the capital which dates back to the 17th Century Gold Coast.

"Chale Wote" provides the platform for music, arts and dance performances on the streets. These perfromances include spoken word, graffiti murals, live street music jams, fashion, and many more.

After the festival, there was an "Akwaaba Dinner" to officially welcome the Fall 2016 students to the programme and to the country.


Madison Griffith (Tulane University of Lousiana) at the Chale Wote Festival


Some dsiplays at the Chale Wote Festival.

Classes started on  August 22nd and the students are having a taste of how academic life is going to be for the next few months. The Twi Lanugage class also begun today.


There are so many activities planned in the horizon and as the semester continues, we will update you on the happenings.





Gandhi once said that "A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people". Since our last update, the Spring 2016 participants have been on a journey of discovering, understanding and appreciating the culture of the people of Ghana.


On February 20th, 2016, the students went on a tour of some parts Eastern Region of Ghana.

Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm

The tour took them to the Tetteh Quarshie cocoa farm, where they learned about the history of how cocoa first came to Ghana. They also learned about the economic benefits of the cocoa pod and seeds to Ghana and also the health benefits provided.


Cocoa pods and beans



T.K. Bead-making Factory


Students in the bead-making process

They also partook in a bead making workshop.  The workshop took them through the processes of making beads using recycled glass. The students also tried their hands on making and decorating their own beads.



March 11th, 2016  took the students on a three day tour of the the cultural hub of Ghana, the Ashanti Region.

Asisiriwa Building Project.



Students carrying water to construction site.

Brady Blackburn, a CIEE Ghana Spring 2012 student, is building a literary center in Asisiriwa in the Ashanti Region. The literacy center will provide a platform for young people to share their creative artistry with the people in the community.

As part of our semester Community Engagements and as part of the trip to Ashanti Region, the Spring 2016 students lend a helping hand by carrying water, building blocks and mortar. They also engaged the pupils of the Asisiriwa Methodist Primary School in a Music and Dance Workshop and soccer. They also made a donation of mosquito nets, clothes and shoes to the community.

To learn more about the Asisiriwa Literacy Center here.


Cultural Workshops




Adinkra symbols

Also on the trip, the students visited Bonwire kente village where they learned the history of the kente cloth and learn about how kente is woven and its various uses. They also visited the Ntonso Adinkra village where the learned about the names and meanings of the motifs and its significance to the Asante ethnic group. They also participated in the printing of adinkra symbols on a kente cloth.


Zoe Russell (Bucknell University) printing an adinkra symbol on a cloth

'Akwasidae' Festival

During the tour of the Ashanti Region, the Spring 2016 students got the opportunity to witness the 'Akwasidae' festival. The festival is celebrated every 40 days of the Asante calendar, honouring the King of the Asante Kingdom called Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, his chiefs and their ancestors. The last 'Akwasidae' coincides with the festival called the 'Adae Kese' festival that celebrates the achievement of the Asante Kingdom, it's King and the people.


Events on the Horizon:

The Students in future will be participating in events that will enrich their cultural learning. In our next newsletter, we will update you as they journey through their experience in Ghana.



Kwasi Gyasi-Gyamerah,

Resident Director,

CIEE Ghana.



The  CIEE GhanaSpring 2014 semester is off to a good start. All 32 students, consisting of 4 boys and 28 girls, arrived safely in Ghana on the 30th of January. Onsite orienation started the next day covering in-depth topics on Academics, Safety and Security, Health, Race, sexuality and Gender Issues in Ghana among others.The students were moved into their various housing options on the 2nd of February. The Orientation continued throughout the week with a series of lectures on various topics by the University of Ghana professors.


Mr. Gyasi-Gyamerah, Resident Director, talking on Academics at the University of Ghana


Students discussing ways to stay safe in Ghana

On Monday, 3rd February, the Office of International Programmes of the University of Ghana (UG), organized a 2-day orientation for all visiting students to introduce them to the University and it served as an opportunity for the CIEE Students to get to know other international students.


Olivia Tomaszewski (George Washington University) interracting with other International Students at the IPO Orientation 

Academic Registration took place on the 6th of February and students received their UG ID Cards and were able to start their online course registrations.

The Tour of the City of Accra which took place on the 7th of February, was to show the students how to get to some places of importance to them during their stay here and also for them to see and experience some Ghana city life. The Official Welcome Dinner which happened the same night was filled with food, good music, dancing and so much fun!


Spring 2014 Participants with staff and U-pals during the tour of the city.


Classes started on Monday, 10th February, 2014!!!


Extracurricular Activities at CIEE Legon Study Center

A good number of our students are actively engaged in the social and cultural life of the country and also on the University of Ghana campus and we would like to share some amazing stories with you.  

"The 2nd Coming of Kwame Nkrumah"

Alex Bailey (as "Queen Elizabeth") Ben Walter (as "Sir Arden Clarke") with some cast members;   Ekow Smith-Asante (as "Kwame Nkrumah"),and Fathia Nkrumah ("Ghana’s former first lady"). 

This weekend, the nation Ghana celebrated Founder’s Day which marks the 104th birthday of the Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the person who led the Independence struggle and won Independence for Ghana which used to be Gold Coast under British colonial rule. As part of the Founder’s Day celebration, a theater performance titled “The 2nd Coming of Nkrumah” was staged at Ghana’s National Theater in downtown Accra.  Acting alongside one of Ghana’s versatile actors in the person of Ecow Smith Asante who played the role of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, 2 CIEE Fall 2013 participants played very significant roles in this theatre performance that held Accra spell-bound.  Ben Walter from Clark University played Sir Charles Arden Clarke and Alexandra Bailey from Emory University played Queen Elizabeth.  The play took the audience through the history of Ghana’s past presidents and a return of Nkrumah to present-day Ghana and the possible sentiments he would have shared if he were still alive. 

P1080427   IMG_1372

Our students had a really fulfilling experience and met a number of important personalities in the Ghanaian entertainment industry from the time they started auditioning for their roles till the actual performance days themselves.


Permit me to offer huge congratulations to one of CIEE’s amazing U-Pals in the person of Atsu (pronounced “Achuu”) for introducing our students to the writer of the play and his team and ensuring that the 2 CIEE get the opportunity to be a part of the performance.  THANK YOU ATSU!!




The entire cast of “The 2nd Coming of Nkrumah”



Also, 6 other CIEE students have participated in a movie yet to be premiered in cinemas on December 2013. We will share this amazing story with you when the movie is premiered.  You will get to know about the talents your students are exhibiting which you may not have been aware of until they studied through CIEE in Legon, Ghana.


Continue to watch this space.









The Grand Adventures of Tera Holtz, Fall 2012

Tera Holtz

CIEE Ghana Fall 2012

University of Legon

University of Wisconsin-Madison